What The iPad Has Done To Education

As the iPad approaches popularity that’d make The Beatles blush, it’s easy to forget what technology in learning looked like before the little tablet from Cupertino entered our collective pedagogical consciousness. It’s also easy to forget what exactly it does from a functional perspective that makes it such an effective teaching tool.

When adopting any new learning tool, from technology to curricula to instructional strategies, the clearer the picture of how that tool ideally functions can be helpful in improving its use.

The Learning Process

One of the more powerful ways technology can support learning is by removing barriers.

The iPad has been a boon functioning as a communication tool for students who have challenges communicating, from learners with autism to English Language Learners.

But it also establishes a more direct link between learners, instruction, and content. In a traditional environment where one teacher must actuate the learning of 30+ students, the ratio can be considered 1:30. But if each student has an iPad, the ratio drops to 1:1, a change not simply mathematical, but philosophical and practical.

In these cases—in a learning sequence designed to take advantage of it anyway—learners have the opportunity to “face” the content more immediately, rather than waiting for the class, the teacher, or even group members. And because the hardware and software is often familiar, students are able to troubleshoot and problem-solve issues on their own, decreasing the demand for procedural knowledge while increasing dwell time with content.

Not Everyone Convinced

In a New York Times article from last year, Stanford University professor emeritus of education Larry Cuban expressed more than a little skepticism about the ability of the iPad to help students learn.

“There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines. iPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning.”

And Elliot Soloway, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan, laments the steep cost—one paid at the expense of less expensive alternatives, explaining, “You can do everything that the iPad can with existing off-the-shelf technology and hardware for probably $300 to $400 less per device.”

While opinions on the iPad are not unanimous (little in education is), its ability to bridge the gap between the classroom and home, hardware and software, and learner and content is considerable. But how does this happen?

What it is about the iPad that makes this sort of potential possible?

What does the iPad “do”?

Mobility and Personalization

First and foremost, the iPad mobilizes digitized media. No longer are learners anchored to desktops, but rather free to move between groups, within a library, or sit in quiet reflection. The benefits of this are more difficult to leverage in a closed setting like a traditional K-20 classroom, but still available. But when you move beyond the traditional classroom setting, out into the “field”—especially when merged with smartphones, projectors, and other gadgets? The possibilities increase ten-fold.

While the iPad tends towards consumption over production, most apps do so with the expectation of interaction. Passive “reading” is less common on Apple’s wonder-device than it can be with traditional media like film or paperback novels. Users have to monitor visual and audible clues, interact with pages, or skim through digital spaces to identify next steps and sequence.

And though it’s true that physically interacting with a digital screen may pale in comparison with the cognitive struggle with a rigorous text, what if you can do both? With the iPad, that’s possible.

There is also the matter of personalization.

In a 1:1 iPad setting, every student can use a device that is set to their liking—perhaps not to BYOD standards but better than a starchy textbook. Apps can also be configured to a user’s personal affinity—in terms of which apps are downloaded, or how the user interface (UI) or social media share functions operate.

And since digital assignments will almost always be connected more vigorously (to other assignments, people, and domains) than a worksheet or essay, it allows the user to create their own path within and across these tasks and projects (assuming the instruction is designed with such self-directedness in mind).

Mandatory Interaction

Being able to effortless swipe through digital pages, watch embedded videos, and pinch-and-zoom the entire solar system, the iPad delivers on the promise of what is possible when we digitize human thought.  If that sounds like hyperbole, think where else but on an iPad with a wi-fi connection users have such natural and engaging access to so much manifest thought and reflection. Every TED talk, Minecraft design, Khan Academy stack, or Google Earth activity demonstrates for students what’s possible when you create, design, revise, and connect–and does so in a compelling way.

iPads are nothing without apps. And apps—good apps anyway—do nothing less than persistently connect learners.

They connect learners with others interested in similar content, with other media, or with the social media platforms they care about.

If I can take a picture, share it on my Learnist board, tweet it out to invite others to collaborate, and then embed it in a tumblr post that I use as a fictional travel log to track a literary character’s journey in a text, I am connected to people, apps, networks, and other texts. This forces a learner to constantly consider their thinking in a larger context, considering crucial tenets of audience and purpose, but more importantly drawing in higher-level thinking skills that are less natural with a pad of paper and a pencil.

Changing Learner Expectations

While the iPad personalizes, promotes consumption, and models possibility, perhaps more than anything, its design, pop culture gravity, and simple mobility grant its user a magical kind of ownership—even if it’s temporary—of whatever is playing, notifying, or bouncing about on the screen. It also provides immediate access to media that at least has a fighting chance to be current and highly consumable.

It might not be anything special the iPads and other tablets do. If computers first came to us as interactive digital screens with scores of personalizable apps, we may think nothing of it at all. Users may now be pining for a desktop experience that lets us sit and work with a physical keyboard and a screen bigger than a box of cereal. We may also want a handful of more universal software pieces that provide some relief from app hunting and endless beta testing for half-baked software that looks great and does little.

But they didn’t, and so we don’t.

We worked for years with computers, then came to iPads. In fact, there will soon be K-5 students whose first introduction to computers may well have been an iPad—students who may not even have a desktop in their home, and may understand computing only through iPads and its accompanying Apple iOS. Not just digital natives, but mobile digital natives, blessed—or cursed—with a schema that expects all electronic devices to honor them the way Apple’s iPad is designed to.

In this way, it has not just hinted at personalized learning, but made it forehead-smacking obvious.

The first couple of years with iPads in classrooms was great, but the honeymoon is over. By putting information in laps and at fingertips in engaging and diverse ways, whole-class, one-size-fits-all instruction is a kind of lunacy. More than anything else, what the iPad has done to education is indirectly belittle it–mock it for its mass approach to what should be an individual experience. Like Gordon Ramsay standing awkwardly in a school cafeteria, an iPad in a stagnant classroom is a brilliant, awful, illuminating thing.

The iPad has put a knife into dated information, slow PCs, and sit-and-get, passive learning sequences, but more than anything else it offers an eloquent voice to shifting learner expectations.

While students have groaned at stultifying lessons and staid content for years, now the iPad is groaning too.

Image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad


9 Ways Universities Are Using The iPad In & Out Of The Classroom


iPads are making waves in education all over the nation, even in college classrooms, where they’re replacing laptops, textbooks, and notebooks. Some colleges have even gone so far as to hand out iPads to new students, helping students and faculty all work with the same technology for learning.

This year, the iPad is still going strong and schools are continuing to innovate new ways to use the tablets in class and around campus. Here we share just a few of the coolest ways iPads are making waves in higher ed this year, from helping teams play better to ensuring students never forget their notes.


    The U.S. isn’t the only place where iPads are becoming a common sight in college classrooms. In the United Arab Emirates, iPads are also playing a significant role in higher education. In September 2012, the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology announced a deal with Apple that will see the school’s campuses remove all paper and pens from the classroom and rely only on iPads for note-taking and information management. The UAE is the first college in the region to offer iPad-only lessons, and the change is expected to impact some 21,500 students. Called iPadagogy, the initiative will mean that students will be required to purchase or finance an iPad to attend classes: no pens and paper will be allowed and all classroom materials, from textbooks to syllabi, will be digital. The UAE isn’t the only nation working on these kinds of radical changes; similar programs are being rolled out at 62 other top colleges and in numerous businesses around the world.


    Instead of mass mailing thousands of brochures and packets in an attempt to recruit new students, Gustavus Adolphus is taking a more high-tech approach to building its freshman class. The school has rolled out a new iPad app this fall that’s full of information for prospective students, allowing them to learn about the campus, see photos, and even get materials for applying. The school hasn’t completely eliminated the viewbooks they send out, but they’re only delivered on request now, and parents and students are now directed first to the app for information about the school. Gustavus is one of the first to develop this kind of admissions app, though others could be soon to follow as tablet ownership becomes more widespread.


    iPads aren’t just showing up in college classrooms but on football fields as well, as coaches and players use them to get ready for games, strategize, and keep in touch. Ohio State and Stanford are two examples of schools that are making the most of the tech to keep coaches and players on the same page. The devices are used to send and share scouting reports about upcoming opponents, watch practice films, get tailored training advice, draw up plays, and in the case of Stanford, are even used to house digitally based playbooks. While coaches admit that the old-fashioned ways of doing these things still work, the iPad method makes things a lot easier and makes resources accessible at any time and from anywhere.


    Regis College is among a growing number of schools that are seriously getting behind the iPad as an educational tool by distributing iPads to all faculty members and incoming freshmen starting this fall. The iPads will be distributed pre-loaded with apps tailored to Regis’ classes, so students only need to power them on to start using them in class. To prepare for the roll-out, students have been taking iPad training sessions and some faculty members received iPads in advance so they can practice working digital teaching into their curriculum.


    At Wabash College, students in 19th Century European History are using iPads to get more out of their educational experience. Professor Michelle Rhodes believes that the tablets can be an invaluable tool for learning, allowing students to quickly take notes, access their readings, and manage their course materials. The adoption of the devices in the course was motivated by rising printing costs and a larger pilot program at the school for using iPads in the classroom. The response has been positive, as students read e-books, use iAnnotate, and even explore a virtual version of Napoleon’s castle throughout the semester.


    At the beginning of 2012, Professor Perry Samson debuted LectureTools, an iPad app that makes it easy for students to collaboratively draw on a shared canvas. Samson teaches atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and developed the app as a way for students to be able to instantly annotate or ask questions about slides in a lecture. He believes that this kind of tech, which he first innovated in 2005 for Pocket PC, helps turn large lecture halls into small classrooms, allowing all students to quickly and easily engage with the professor and other students. Even better, the application makes it possible for students to participate remotely, which can be a big help for non-traditional students balancing work and family commitments.


    iPads became a common sight in hospitals all over the world almost as soon as they were released, and as a result a growing number of medical schools are making the tablets a part of their training programs. The Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is one example, rolling out a program this fall that will equip all incoming students with an iPad and a white coat with an iPad-sized pocket. Administrators and faculty at the school believe adding the iPad to their courses and residencies will make it easier for students to learn, as they can call up full-color images of human anatomy on-demand, get real-time updates to their course curriculum, and easily communicate with teachers and patients. Even better, using the iPad will save more than 40 reams of paper that students would traditionally use for taking notes and printing out materials.


    iPads are proving to be pretty great marketing tools for colleges on a number of fronts. A few schools, like Gustavus Adolphus College, are using them to share information about their programs and offerings with prospective students, helping them to bring in new students without spending big on mailing out viewbooks. Other schools are taking a simple but effective approach. At the Wharton School of Business, students can pick up an iPad at the university bookstore that’s engraved with the Wharton logo. The custom-branded iPad is available only to current students and staff. Created for the school’s executive MBA program, which has been exploring a pilot program using iPads in the classroom over the past few years, the iPads have become an in-demand item on campus as other students have inquired about getting their own. As a result, the tablets are proving to be successful tools for showcasing the brand of the school and plans are in the works to let alumni buy the devices, too, so usage could soon be much more widespread.


    Students at Salem State don’t have to seek out digital textbooks on their own; they can buy them right from the school’s bookstore just as they would traditional texts. The digital textbooks don’t just provide the usual text, they also come complete with interactive features, quizzes, and the ability to annotate and highlight the text. So far, the bookstore only carries 13 digital texts, but it hopes to add more in the future as it expands access to other topics. The books not only boast additional features, however, but also save owners money: up to 40% off the cost of bound textbooks as students can buy only the chapters of the book they need.

    This is a cross-post from content partners at


50 Popular iPad Apps For Struggling Readers & Writers

50 Popular iPad Apps For Struggling Readers & Writers

by TeachThought Staff

Whether you’re the parent of a child with a reading disability or an educator that works with learning disabled students on a daily basis, you’re undoubtedly always looking for new tools to help these bright young kids meet their potential and work through their disability. While there are numerous technologies out there that can help, perhaps one of the richest is the iPad, which offers dozens of applications designed to meet the needs of learning disabled kids and beginning readers alike.

Here, we highlight just a few of the amazing apps out there that can help students with a reading disability improve their skills not only in reading, writing, and spelling, but also get a boost in confidence and learn to see school as a fun, engaging activity, not a struggle.

Note: See also 15 Of The Best Educational Apps For Improved Reading Comprehension & 20 iPad Apps To Teach Elementary Reading

Helpful Tools

These tools are useful for both educators and students with reading disabilities alike, aiding in everything from looking up a correct spelling to reading text out loud.

  1. Speak It!Speak It! is a great text-to-speech solution that can allow students with reading disabilities to get a little help with reading when they need it.
  2. Talk to MeTalk to Me is another text to speech application. It can be used to read words out loud as they are typed, which can help students to better correlate the letters and words with how they’re pronounced.
  3. Dragon DictationDragon Dictation works in reverse of the two apps we just listed. Instead of reading text out loud, the application writes down spoken text. For students who struggle with writing, it can be a great way for them to jot down ideas or get help learning.
  4. Dyslexic Like MeExplaining dyslexia to a child can be hard, but this application can make it a little easier. It’s an interactive children’s book that helps students to understand dyslexia and become empowered to overcome their learning disability.
  5. Merriam-Webster DictionaryIf spelling is a problem, it’s always a good idea to have a really great dictionary on hand. This app from Merriam-Webster can provide that.
  6. Ditionary.comIf is your go-to place for definitions and spelling help, this app can be a great way to bring that functionality to your iPad or iPhone.
  7. PrizmoWith Prizmo, users can scan in any kind of text document and have the program read it out loud, which can be a big help to those who struggle with reading.
  8. Flashcards for iPadThis app makes it easy to study words, spelling, and other things that young and LD readers might need help with.
  9. SoundnoteUsing Soundnote, you can record drawings, notes, and audio all at once, balancing reading-based skills with those that are auditory and visual.


These apps help teach the fundamentals of reading, writing, and spelling to any young learner, but can be especially helpful for those who are struggling.

  1. Alphabet ZooAlphabet Zoo is a great tool for helping young readers to recognize letter sounds. Using text and pictures of animals, kids can build their reading skills while having fun.
  2. Find the Letters HDA favorite of special education teachers and psychologists, this app asks learners to find letters and numbers in a coloring grid. It helps build skills in spatial positioning, depth orientation, form discrimination, and concentration and attention.
  3. First Words SamplerPreschoolers with a reading disability can get a head start on improving their skills with this app that teaches them about letters and words using fun graphics and sounds.
  4. Montessori CrosswordsEmbrace the Montessori method by using this app to help youngsters improve their spelling and reading skills through engaging phonics-based exercises.
  5. Read & Write :Students can practice reading and writing letters using this application. Users can trace letters, learn letter sounds, and get illustrations to go along with each part of the alphabet.
  6. Sound LiteracyWith a portion of the proceeds from this app going to the Dyslexia Association, there’s no reason not to sign on. Even better, the app is incredibly useful, employing the Orton-Gillingham method to help students recognize the spellings of English phonemes.
  7. weesay ABCUsing pictures, words, and sounds, this application makes it easy for young students to practice and learn their ABCs.
  8. abc PocketPhonicsThis app is a great tool for teaching reading disabled students the fundamentals of letter sounds and shapes.
  9. The Writing MachineBy correlating pictures and words, reading text, sounding out letters, this tool helps students develop early literacy abilities with greater ease.
  10. WordSortOne of the top educational apps out there, this game helps kids to learn how to identify parts of speech, like nouns, adverbs, and verbs, as well as emphasizing grammar skills.
  11. ABC Phonics Word Families: Using analogy phonics (or word families) this application teaches young learners to see and hear the patterns of commonality in a set of words. With flashcards, spelling words, scrambled words, and games, this app is a must-have for helping students.


These excellent iPad apps can be a big help to reading disabled students who need a little extra support when trying to read.

  1. BlioBlio offers all the same features of any basic e-reader, and also a few things that make it unique. Through synchronized highlighting and a serial presentation view, the app helps those with reading disabilities make sense of the text, something many other similar apps don’t offer.
  2. Read 2 MeFor those who have difficulty reading, apps like Read 2 Me can be a godsend. The app comes complete with an entire library of texts, all of which can be read out loud.
  3. Read2GoIf you use DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) books in your classroom, Read2Go is one of the best and most accessible ways to read those books on iOS.
  4. AppWriterDesigned with reading and writing disabilities in mind, this text editor for iPad integrates numerous accessibility features into standard text editing functionality.
  5. AudiobooksSometimes students with reading disabilities might just want a break from reading books the old fashioned way. That’s why this amazing collection of free audiobooks can come in handy, offering access to classics like Romeo and Juliet and Treasure Island.
  6. Bob’s BooksBob’s Books uses phonics-based interactive games to help kids learn how to read. Activities will help young learners to sound out words, spell, and make connections between letters and sounds.
  7. iStoryTimeThere are numerous titles to choose from in the iStoryTime series, all of which allow kids to have the book read to them or to get help reading it themselves.
  8. MeeGenius! Kids’ BooksMeeGenius is another series that’s perfect for practicing reading skills. Those with trouble reading can use illustrations and helpful word highlighting to get help, or just have the book read to them until they’re confident enough to do it on their own.
  9. Reading TrainerWhile this app is designed to help average readers boost their reading speed and ability, it can be useful to those who struggle as well, as many of the skills taught can help just about anyone become a more confident reader.
  10. See Read SayThis application will help to ensure that young learners are familiar with all of the Dolch sight words (the most common words), using games, activities, and tons of practice.
  11. Stories2LearnWhy use existing stories to help troubled readers when you can build your own? This application lets you develop your own text and audio stories, including messages, topics, and other things that can help keep kids interested.
  12. eReading seriesThe eReading series from Brain Integration LLC, helps young readers at all levels of proficiency learn about topics like Greek Mythology and Gulliver’s Travels. Users can have the book read to them, or practice reading without the help, too.


For those with reading disabilities, sometimes writing can also be a trying task. Here are some apps that can help teach, assist, and make writing more fun.

  1. iWrite WordsNamed by The Washington Post as one of the best apps for special needs kids, this game-based program helps youngsters learn to write their letters through a fun and engaging setup that uses illustrations and animations to keep things interesting.
  2. AlphaWriterUsing Montessori-based learning methods, this application helps kids to learn how to read, write, and spell phonetically. It also teaches lessons on consonants and vowels, letter sounds, writing stories, and much more.
  3. Sentence BuilderThrough this application, elementary school children will learn how to build grammatically correct sentences, with a special focus on using connector words.
  4. Story BuilderAfter kids are done learning how to build sentences, they can move onto this app which combines those sentences into one coherent story, complete with illustrations.
  5. Writing PromptsHaving trouble thinking of things for students to write about? This app removes that roadblock and offers up numerous ideas for short writing assignments.
  6. Idea SketchThis mind-mapping app can help learning disabled students make sense of their ideas and organize them in ways that they can easily translate into written work.
  7. StoryrobeTeachers and students can build and share their own unique stories through this application. Integration with YouTube and email makes it easy to share and revise, too.


These applications can be excellent tools for improving spelling skills.

  1. American WordspellerLooking up a word in a dictionary isn’t that simple if you have no idea how to spell it. This app removes that problem and employs a method that lets you much more easily pinpoint how to spell just about any word.
  2. Word MagicCreated by the parents of a five-year-old, this app for young learners help kids learn words and how to spell them correctly. It uses lots of positive reinforcement, rewards, and fun pictures to keep things interesting to learners.
  3. Typ-OPoor spellers can rejoice over this great application that help you spell words correctly in any typing-related program on your iPhone or iPad.
  4. A1 Spelling AppThis application is a great way to help poor spellers begin to learn the correct spelling of common words, increasing difficulty as kids master words.
  5. iSpell WordiSpell Word is designed to help kids learn the spellings of simple English words. It uses games to teach, with each level of the game employing more difficult words so kids are always challenged.
  6. JumblineIf you’re looking to make reading, writing, and spelling into a game, this app can help. It’s full of word games that ask players to use speed, smarts, pattern recognition, and spelling skills to win.
  7. Spelling Bee ChallengeKids can have fun taking part in a mock spelling bee using this application that boosts both spelling and vocab skills.
  8. Word FallIn this educational game, words fall from the sky and players must collect letters to form basic words.
  9. WordLadderThis highly challenging word game will get older readers thinking about how words are spelled and how they can be connected and changed to form new words.
  10. ACT SpellDeveloped especially for learners with disabilities and special needs, this tool helps develop motor control, word recognition, spelling, and reading skills.
  11. Word WizardLauded by The New York Times, this word-focused app lets kids hear the sounds of letters and words through a movable alphabet while also engaging them in spelling practice and games.

This is a cross-post from content partners at


18 Snapshots Of iPad Integration In Education

ipad-visual-recording18 Snapshots Of iPad Integration In Education

You know from experience that when you enjoy a subject, learning about that subject is easier, more fun, and you retain the information longer. Getting kids to enjoy learning is more productive to education efforts than spending more money, lengthening school days, you name it. This is the reason many educators are excited about the possibilities inherent to the iPad.

More than 600 school districts in America have brought iPads into the classroom. Had they waited a bit longer, they could have taken advantage of studies like these to know whether the iPad movement is the wave of the future of education, or a waste of valuable resources.

18 Snapshots Of iPad Integration In Education

1. Motion Math in Class: An assistant professor of education at USC’s Rossier School oversaw this study looking at whether having students play a learning game to teach them fractions increased their knowledge. Just five days of playing Motion Math for 20 minutes each day raised fifth graders’ fractions test scores 15%, and also raised their “liking” of fractions by 10%.

2. HMH Fuse Algebra 1: In September 2010, textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt packaged its Algebra 1 book as an iPad app called HMH Fuse Algebra 1. The company donated 400 iPads loaded with the app to schools in four California school districts. After a full school year of study, the results showed nearly 20% more iPad users than non-iPad users scored “proficient” or better on the district algebra exam.

3. ACU Connected: Abilene Christian University is on the forefront of experimentation with technology in their college classrooms. Through the ACU Connected program, they have conducted several studies on the iPad. Among their results: students who annotate text on the iPad score 25% higher on questions involving transferring information. Researchers have also learned using an iPad raises student satisfaction levels because of the ease of use and varied features.

4. Beyond Textbooks: In late 2010, Virginia’s education department began an experimental program of giving iPads to social studies students in grades four, seven, and nine to test its viability as a learning tool. They found that the technology increased both student independence and collaboration, and allowed teachers to be more facilitators than fact-deliverers.

5. Pepperdine University: Although the study won’t conclude until the end of 2011, preliminary findings of experimental iPad programs at Pepperdine have echoed the findings of increased student engagement, as the college kids with iPads became more involved with the material and with each other. But they have also found students will not make use of apps unless they are required to by an instructor.

6. Reed College iPad study: Reed’s iPad experiment was a follow-up to a test-run of using Kindles in the classroom, partly to see if the iPad better met students’ needs. Students approved of the iPad’s portability and readability, but admitted the many features were a tempting distraction in large classes. They also strongly favored the iPad for annotating text and referring to notes for in-class discussions.

7. Step Forward iPad Pilot Project: Researchers at Trinity College tested the iPad in the classroom along with netbooks, e-readers, and an Android tablet. They found 80% of students preferred the iPad, but that the devices are not adequate replacements for laptops or desktops, but rather a supplement. The project was enough of a success that the school opted to provide all students with iPads in 2012.

8. iPad Initiative at the University of Minnesota: In the largest pilot program in the country, in 2011 U of M handed out iPads to every incoming freshman to the College of Education and Human Development. Students liked the tablets overall but like those at Trinity felt laptops work better for homework. African-American students reported the highest improvement in their learning experience by using the iPad.

9. Notre Dame e-reader study: Educators at Notre Dame have been focusing on creating an environment for simple, free creation and sharing of e-materials. Their experience with loaning students iPads has led them to believe its greatest strength is its ability to aggregate information and lead students to more knowledge than a textbook could. The iPad’s portability allowed for spur-of-the-moment research and discussion that wouldn’t be possible with traditional media.

10. Oklahoma State University iPad Pilot Program: OSU experimented with iPads in five classes in the fall of 2010. Students here expected to use the e-reader function much more than they actually ended up doing so. Three-fourths of the participants agreed the devices enhance their learning experience, and even felt iPads trumped laptops for certain professional uses.

11. University of Cincinnati: Cinci’s Faculty Technology Resources Center was tasked with loaning iPads to instructors who requested them. The Center’s findings from the program led them to believe that although the iPad “is not destined to change the face of education” in the science, math, and technology fields, instructors with a clear objective for iPads can derive benefit from incorporating them into their teaching.

12. Unlocking Literacy with iPad: James Harmon, an English teacher in Cleveland, split up the students from three classes into two groups, one with access to iPads and one without. He discovered the students with access were more likely to pass reading and writing standardized tests, had more motivation to learn, and wrote longer essays on the iPad than they would on paper.

13. Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop High School: This school in Minnesota distributed 375 iPads to students and counted the experiment enough of a success to continue. Something they learned that they did not expect was the way students would become so used to having teachers respond to emails sent from their iPads. The school had to set up boundaries for protecting the teachers’ personal time.

14. University of Toronto: Dr. Rhonda McEwen of the University of Toronto has been using touch-screen technology since 2009 to teach autistic children how to communicate. While she admits the science has a long way to go, she and others in the field have found the iPad’s ability to swipe and click and manipulate the screen is improving the communications skills of non-verbal kids.

15. Zeeland Public Schools: The experimental program to give every student in grades three through 12 in Zeeland, Mich., an iPad produced similar results to other programs: teachers raved about its ability to engage students and let them focus on teaching, not managing. But the issue of child safety came up with this program. One parent questioned if giving kids the mobile devices violates the Child Internet Protection Act, and the question is still up in the air.

16. Canby School District pilot program: This Oregon school district gave out 25 iPads to teachers and 300 to students of all grade levels to weigh the pros and cons of the technology. Officials were more unfavorable than most, citing many students’ dislike of using the touch screen for extended periods, their so-so rating of satisfaction with the overall experience, and unavailability of digital textbooks to replace hard-copy materials.

17. The Educational Potential of Mobile Computing in the Field: Researchers studied the use of mobile devices, including iPads and HP tablet PCs, in the field with students in three different classes at Vassar College, Trinity University, and Lawrence University. They felt the fragility of the iPad, the lack of a pen for annotating, and the fact that the apps are not intended for data creation prevent the iPad from being suitable for an educational tool outside.

18. Stanford School of Medicine: Hoping to curb the need for printed materials, Stanford’s School of Medicine lent an iPad to every student in August 2010. The experiment here was a failure; students did not like to use them in class, and half the student body stopped using them altogether just weeks into the year. The school had no choice but to resume printing hard-copy notes.

This is a cross-post from content-partners at onlineuniversities.com18 Snapshots Of iPad Integration In Education

The Future Of Learning

The Past, Present, And Future Of The iPad In Learning

The Past, Present, And Future Of The iPad In Learning

by Terry Heick

The Idea

When Apple started dropping hints about a coming “tablet PC” in 2009, it would have been difficult to see the way it might change the way we interact with digital media.

The first-generation iPad was introduced in April, 2010 and in lieu of some significant hardware limitations, was a world-beater, garnering $1 billion in sales in just 4 months. The iPad 2 was released 11 months later, and the iPad 3 is currently rumored for a Spring 2012 release. While discussing the “history” of a product less than two years old may seem a bit premature technology moves at a dizzying, humming pace.

Dog years have nothing on tech years.

The concept for the iPad started over a dinner. As told in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, Jobs was annoyed the way a particular Microsoft employee (not Bill Gates) kept going on and on about a forthcoming new tablet PC. Jobs liked the concept—it made sense, following the path that smartphones had already blazed: handheld, mobile devices with touchscreens. Nothing here was revolutionary so far.

But Jobs was bothered by Microsoft’s insistence on using a stylus. Jobs goes on in the biography to explain that “(Microsoft) was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead.”

And so, standing on the shoulders of smartphones and in-development tablet PCs, the iPad was conceived.

Education has an odd reputation for both resisting change, and short-sightedly jumping on emerging edu-trends. This odd juxtaposition colors much of the school reform debate, and bleeds into its adoption of technology as well. In many schools, iPads are being used in extraordinary ways to unleash student learning, while in others it’s characterized as a luxury, lacking priority in an instructional setting where the curriculum and instruction may not considered to be up-to-snuff.

Undoubtedly, technology will continue to play a larger role in both formal and informal learning environments, and it’s fair to wonder where this is all going. To better understand where it’s going, it’s helpful to understand where it’s been.

Below is a “historical” perspective of the iPad’s first 20 months in the classroom, broken down into three distinct epochs, each marked by a distinguishing “big idea”: the Gee Wiz era, the App era, and the Personalized era.

The Gee Wiz Era

Initially, what really set the iPad apart was its elegance; it offered a strangely magical union of hardware and software that the cold-metal-and-plastic world of PCs had yet to create. If you consider the nature of the media users consume—personal photographs, emotional songs, hilarious videos, and powerful single-media text—it’s at least curious that the hardware used to access these media has historically been so stoic and blank.

While still made of metal-and-plastic, the iPad offered an immediacy to media interaction that could not be matched by a personal computer, and visibility that smartphones couldn’t match. This sweet-spot engendered the iPad with a kind of aura that not only caused a buying frenzy with consumers, but with learners as well, if for no other reason than sheer contrast. After decades of textbooks, worksheets, and the occasional hands-on project, the iPad sat in their lap and played YouTube videos on a screen big enough for a group to enjoy. And it was easy to access the content.

“Motor skills are not necessary. Three year olds are using them and instantly figured out how to swipe from left to right,” says Jennifer Lowton, director of GMPDC, a professional development center for teachers. “The home button gets you out of anything.”

Similarly, non-linguistic symbols allow Special Education and English Language Learners the chance to direct their own communication patterns through physical interaction, a savior for autistic learners.

While the iPad would eventually become much more, initially its novelty was enough. Unlike the user experience offered by desktops and laptop interfaces, like books and magazines, you could now touch information again–but unlike books and magazines, the iPad was unbounded. Now, one could access millions of stories and millions of poems—and millions of anthologies of stories and poems. And could annotate them. And share the annotations. And document them long-term. And it was fun to use.

Gee Wiz.

Early iPad use can so be characterized by the novelty of this interaction, as educators found out how to harness its potential without neutering its magic. Many learners, families, and even industry experts originally viewed the iPad as a glorified e-reader, and at the beginning, this could be true. Its simple actuation supported literacy efforts in elementary school classrooms, and supplemented traditional texts with digital media in upper level classrooms.

As with the more ubiquitous iPods, iPads also offered podcasts, an incredible (and still under-developed) mother lode of digital content for all content areas. Even basic drawing apps allowed for iPads to be used as electronic white boards for quick in-lesson assessment.

At this point, the iPad was still looking for its place in the classroom. While interesting, some still considered it crudely as a “replacer of textbooks,” this implying that the digital equivalent of textbooks was a desirable thing. In an industry starving for authentic innovation, the “Gee wiz era” of the iPad offered a whiz-bang start that immediately engaged audiences, but was only scratching the surface of its potential, a notion that would be underscored by the coming digital era.

The App Era

While the idea for the iPad stemmed from a minor revision of an existing design (replace a stylus with your fingertips), it had other less-celebrated features embedded that continue to elevate it in terms of not only commercial success, but potential in education.

Specifically, apps.

Traditionally, digital content had been accessed through a web browser, itself just a tool for formatting and displaying multimedia. This worked well with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, but once screens started shrinking and peripherals started disappearing, browsers were suddenly clunky.

Enter the app.

An app is essentially software that acts as an interface, allowing the user to communicate with other platforms: social media, websites, news streams, and even other iPads.  And herein is where tablet computers like the iPad can truly rise above traditional textbooks: connectivity via apps.

As with all “smart” devices, early iPad apps from mid-2010 were dominated by notions of “productivity”: email, calendar, note-taking, and basic word processing, and classroom use reflected as much. Soon, however, apps blossomed with creativity, and with it the iPad experience. As Blackberry has learned the hard way, mobile Operating Systems like iOS, Android, and even social media platforms like facebook and twitter depend on app and API integration as their lifeblood. Apple’s iPad truly began to its stride as app-development hit a stride of its own.

In the University of Wisconsin News, Katy Culver, faculty associate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, discussed using the iPad in her magazine publishing class.

“It’s interesting seeing how content – both print and digital – can combine and be accessible through an iPad,” she says. “Anytime we can take a device and put it into a context where students are engaging with it, understanding how consumers use magazines and how advertisers perceive it, it gives them a richer understanding of the medium.”

But in a crucial next step, Culver also has students produce the app that allows the access to the content. This represents an important evolution of technological application, where users are not simply using, but creating—and doing so not through native hardware or software, but forward-thinking apps. In 2012 and beyond, the success of any gadget depends as much on its software as its hardware, with cross-platform app integration through APIs not exceptional, but a minimum requirement.

In the “App era,” basic productivity apps have now been supplemented by more diverse offerings. As of late 2011, the most popular “Education apps” are those that support early literacy (Simplex Spelling Phonics 1) and basic arithmetic (Math Bingo), while a handful of others are dedicated to what educators would consider a “content area,” primarily Astronomy and Geography.  While this has as much to do with how Apple sets up their App Store as with how educators are using the iPad, it is clear that the future of the iPad lies in the imagination of app developers.

In fact, the “app era” of the iPad can also be characterized by innovation of existing technologies—that is, using existing hardware and software in new ways (see twitter, hashtags, and backchannel conversations, e-clickers, QR codes, and smarter social media interdependence), an area that will only grow as technology moves forward.

The Personalized Era

Though the iPad certainly still has a high gee-wiz factor, and apps remain absolutely vital, the current era of iPad application in education might be considered the “personalized era.” While it will continue to evolve in terms of hardware and software, there is already more than enough there to change the way students learn. It’s no longer about quantity, but rather personalization, and this starts not with technology, but human beings.

Undoubtedly, iPad users like to consume media. A recent study by Mashable indicates that their average iPad app user spends 6 times as long with their content as their average web user.

And gender-equity? Male users outnumber females 2:1. Since April of 2010, iPads have enabled magical media consumption, while critics decried the device’s relative inability to produce. While the gender issue is tangled with cultural and societal ideas, revisions of the iPad indicate the Apple recognizes the nakedness of their own product. Though the first-generation models lacked a camera, this has since corrected on second-generation models. The first-generation of the iPad also lacked HDMI connections or USB ports, something also corrected with the iPad 2 revisions.

For all of what it does well, the iPad has some hardware limitations that at best have forced app-creators and users to be inventive. With no physical keyboard, word processing is not the iPad’s sweet spot. Enter an excellent on-screen touch keyboard, improved voice recognition software, and strong peripheral support (including keyboards). No Flash support? Enter HTML5 or, failing that, an app that simply replaces the lost Flash-support. (And with Flash’s recent dropping of the Android mobile platform, Apple’s seems awfully prescient.)

In fact, this constant “correction” of iPad features and ability characterize this era of personalization. As quickly as we see the iPad and its corresponding stakeholders scamper and revise, this is a pattern and pace education has been trying to match for decades. While suffering far more inertia than a single product, the industry of learning is slowly moving towards a more personalized model in terms of curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Former notions of “differentiation” are being replaced by the real possibility that learners might be able to establish their own project schedules, media forms, and audiences—and thus their own reasons to learn.

Concepts like the “second screen” symbolize this trend well. As users watch one media—a video or lecture, for example—their iPads will allow them a “second screen” to interact with content being displayed on the first. This screen allows for an entirely personalized learning pathway that is self-paced and self-actuated. And because it’s digital, it allows for the entire process to be shared, documented, and reflected on later through metacognitive practices, or in collaboration with a classroom teacher.

In the spirit of “iTunes U,” and the open source courseware approach available through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), there are now entire courses available as apps. In this way, the iPad’s history in the classroom has come full-circle. Instead of relying on the novelty of swiping, pinching, and zooming, digitized textbooks, or even swollen app-power, the current era of the iPad is about empowering the individual user through personalization.

With the iPad, the content has been placed directly in the hands of the user. Old roles saw the teacher as both creator and distributor of content, while the learner received. Through technology, it is now possible to reverse roles. Here the teacher is de-centralized, and the learner, given scaffolding the works by an expert teacher, is tasked to create. While this role change might ruffle some feathers, it is a change that is long-overdue. Passivity is a killer, and truly personalized, student-centered learning is within reach.

Looking Forward

If we take the most macro view possible, not looking at apps, users, or even user-content interaction but the learning process itself, the iPad is only a tool. In this view, it seems comparatively impotent.

But its history has been characterized by constant change and evolution, this break-neck revision of hardware and software exposing the comparatively stunted growth of education. As the iPad reinvents itself every 8-12 months, old learning forms—firmly bolted to the floor—only reach out to partake in the iPad’s evolution instead of forcing evolution of its own. This contrast may be as helpful as any app or project-based learning tool.

As we wait on the iPad 3 and Android tablets make a push of their own towards the classroom, the next era of the iPad in the classroom will depend on inclusion and integration: more learners in more schools with more access, and seamless integration with curriculum, assessment, and instruction. This will require not pixie-dust from Apple, but thinking and commitment from educators.

In this way, further meaningful and lasting classroom application is now in different hands. Whether we like it or not, the reality that learners can now swipe their way through phonetics, constellations, and philosophical arguments while moving about groups recording audio, curating sources with QR codes, or browsing international library stacks via an app takes time to internalize.

The next era of the iPad in education will materialize as users, app producers, educators, and perhaps most critically families work collaboratively to rebalance these equations.

This article was originally written by Terry Heick for Edudemic Magazine; image attribution flickr users usnavalwarcollege; brainpopuk, and 46137


20 iPad Apps To Teach Elementary Reading

20 iPad Apps To Teach Elementary Reading

by TeachThought Staff

As anyone with a toddler knows, iPads are addictive for children. They seem to have some sort of special radar that lets them know when an iDevice is within their reach, and they’ll do anything they can to get their hands on them. Resistance is futile, but instead of lamenting excessive screen time, you can make your child’s iPad addiction a productive one with educational apps, including those that promote early reading.

With these 20 apps, children can learn how to write letters, improve phonics fluency, and even write their own books. Read on to find the very best iPad apps for developing young readers, and feel free to share your own favorites in the comments.

  1. ABC PocketPhonics

    Kids can develop skills in letter sounds, writing, and first words with ABC PocketPhonics. Independent research has shown kids using this app can learn even faster than they would in a classroom lesson. Parents and teachers alike love this app as an early childhood learning tool.

  2. Play & Sing

    Preschoolers can get interactive with this app that encourages reading, teaches colors, letters, shapes, and even animals. Children will trace numbers and letters, pick out colors, shapes, and animals, plus pick out what’s next in a sequence.

  3. Booksy

    Students in Kindergarten to second grade can learn to read on this free platform. Designed to help children practice and develop their reading skills, students can download books that help to build comprehension, give cues, and even track progress with detailed user stats.

  4. My Word Wall

    Children can develop early reading skills with the help of My Word Wall, an educational app for budding readers. Students will hear, visualize, vocally repeat, and write down letters and words to learn, plus get engaged with educational activities that are great for all learning styles. Fun games and structured learning make this app a great choice.

  5. Letter Lab

    An incredible tool for learning to write and recognize ABCs, kids will trace uppercase and lowercase letters with their fingers on this app. Letter Lab not only teaches kids to write, but also about real-world objects with an audio component.

  6. Story Patch

    Teach students about the flow of stories by helping them to create their own. Story Patch for the iPad makes it easy for children to create their very own picture books. Customizable characters, hundreds of illustrations, and built-in story themes make this a very fun and engaging reading and writing app.

  7. Learn to Read!

    Kids can get a head start on learning to read with this app, designed for kids from Kindergarten to second grade. Using a flash card deck of sight words, children will develop the building blocks of reading. Voice prompts, examples, and easy-to-read text come together in this highly educational app.

  8. Phonics Easy Reader

    With the Rock ‘N Learn Phonics Easy Reader, little ones can practice their phonics. Short vowel sounds, combinations, memory words, and more are all covered in this app. Kids can choose whether a story will be read aloud to them and highlighted, or if they’ll read by themselves, tapping words when they need help.

  9. ABC Alphabet Phonics

    An awesome phonics game app for kids, Alphabet Phonics offers a great way to teach your child their ABCs. Using sight, sound, and touch, this educational app is useful even at the infant stage.

  10. Reading Raven

    Reading Raven is a beloved reading game app for the iPad. A favorite of teachers and even Apple staff, the Reading Raven is a fun reading adventure guide offering excellent features for kids, teaching phonological awareness, full sentences, and even printing skills.

  11. SUPER WHY!

    There’s so much to love about this reading app. Featuring characters that many kids already love from the SUPER WHY! TV show, children can choose from several different activities that develop their vocabulary, reading, and writing skills. Letter hunts, tracing letters, rhyming, and completing sentences are just a few of the ways kids are engaged in active reading development in this app.

  12. K-3 Sight Words

    Children can learn “sight words” with the help of this app that focuses on words that must be memorized instead of sounded out. With five different levels, young users can gradually build their skills and word memorization.

  13. Find the Words

    Kids will have fun playing word search on this easy-to-use educational app. Several different backgrounds and themes keep things interesting and engaging.

  14. Aesop’s Quest

    In Aesop’s Quest, Aesop the Ant reads through stories, revealing clues that help him in his quest. Little readers must remember important elements of each story to help Aesop along the way, developing reading comprehension and cognitive reading skills in a really fun way.

  15. Read Me Stories

    Develop a daily reading habit with this app that delivers a brand new book every day. Fun features include text highlighting as it’s read and the ability to touch characters and explore story lines.

  16. Scholastic Reading Timer

    Encourage daily reading with this iPad reading timer that keeps track of reading minutes and monitors weekly reading goals. It works just like a real stopwatch, but it’s fun for kids to see their reading minutes add up.

  17. Kids Can Spell

    Using fun animal images, kids can learn how to spell with this app. Through Kids Can Spell, children will see many different animals with sounds and spelling lessons to back them up. They’ll check out beautiful photos, then drag letters in place to assemble words. There’s even a timed version for an added challenge!

  18. Reading for Details

    Reading for Details is a great app for helping kids build reading comprehension skills. Students read passages, then test their understanding of the who, what, why, when, and where at three different levels of reading difficulty.

  19. Word Magic

    Created by the parents of a 5-year-old, Word Magic was designed with young readers in mind. Kids find missing letters that identify photos, featuring attractive and funny pictures. Parents and kids alike love this learning app for its positive reinforcement, bright colors, and simple design.

  20. C is for Cow

    With this app, kids can have fun learning phonetics and letter recognition. Even very young children love to see the animals, repeat their sounds, and learn their names.

    This is a cross-post from content partners at; image attribution flickr user apdk


The iPad Revolution – How Learning Will Never Be the Same Again

Beyond being a media player, a web browser, an expensive organiser and a games console, the iPad has another use, one that’s perhaps more important than any of the others.

It is a natural tool for learning and for teaching.

1. Simple to use

Using an iPad is incredibly intuitive, indeed fans of the device have long been quoted as saying that ‘it just works’. The trade off for that simplicity is that it’s a lot more locked down than its Android rivals- a walled garden to their wild jungles. For children and toddlers though it’s ideal, many of its basic uses barely even need explanation and they’re unlikely to break anything (software-wise anyway). They can be let loose on it with minimal supervision and will learn basic computer skills from that alone, leading to kids that will be tech savvy from a relatively early age.

2. A Wealth of Apps

Computer skills aside, a child isn’t going to learn much from an iPad if they’re simply left to their own devices and that would be a huge missed opportunity. Though it doesn’t specifically come with anything designed for children, developers have clearly recognised the potential of the device and hundreds of child-friendly educational apps and games have sprung up as a result. We’ve already written about many of the best educational iPad apps, and there are more springing up all the time. Many of these are suitable for children as young as two and they teach every subject covered in schools and more. From math to science, geography to foreign cinema, there’s enough on offer to impart of wealth of knowledge to children, both pre-school and to supplement the teaching of those in formal education.

3. Making Learning Fun

Beyond the sheer selection of educational apps, the iPad is also a brilliant tool for learning because many of the apps are presented in an entertaining manner, for example as a simple game. This will lead children to actually want to learn as they’re having fun in the process, indeed in some cases they may not even realise the educational value of what they’re doing, but they’ll be learning all the same.

4. Available Precautions

While the iPad is a great tool, it’s worth taking certain steps to protect the device, your own data and your child before letting them use one. The built in web browser is a dangerous area for a start as there is obviously a lot of unsuitable content online. The simplest solution here is to just turn Wi-Fi off while your child is using your iPad, thus preventing them using the internet at all. This also stops them inadvertently spending money on the App Store, however if you plan to always be watching over them then neither of these things are such an issue.

It’s also worth explaining which areas of the iPad are off limits to your child. The settings screen is one that they should perhaps stay away from, as is the calendar or anywhere else that you have data that you don’t want to lose.

Finally, the iPad itself is both expensive and relatively fragile and however careful a child is accidents do happen, so it’s worth buying a case to keep it protected. It’s also highly advisable to take out gadget insurance, as this will ensure you can get your iPad repaired or replaced free of charge should anything happen.

5. Not Just For Kids

The iPad has the potential to change education for the better, making learning more enjoyable and engaging while giving both teachers and parents the tools needed to provide a fuller, more rounded education to their child. It could one day replace textbooks and computers altogether as an all-in-one learning device.

It doesn’t stop with children though. Teenagers, college students and adults can all learn a lot from this little device. There are apps designed for all ages and disciplines and it doesn’t end with iPads either. They’re perfect for children because of their simplicity, but for older users there are dozens of tablets on the market, all with their own advantages and disadvantages, be it price, size, operating system or app selection. In short there’s a tablet for everyone and in the not too distant future they’re bound to be a standard feature in schools and offices around the world.

This is a guest post by Eve Pearce.


How To Connect An iPad To A Smartboard

It’s really simple–so simple that you’re going to feel silly for not having already known this–and if you tweet this out to a colleague without checking out the stunning simplicity of it all, you’re going to feel crunchy (remember that term?) later when you realize it wasn’t quite the revelation you’d thought it might be.


If you’ve only got one iPad, or are trying to guide the entire class through an activity, the classroom projector can act as a modeling tool for students to follow along.

By displaying the iPad on the projector, you’ve got an easy way to broadcast your screen–or a student’s screen during a presentation–to the entire class.

What You Need

  • iPad 2 or “new iPad” (thank goodness Apple didn’t call the new iPad iPad 3–that’d just be confusing!)
  • Apple VGA Adapter

To use the Smartboard as a projection display, you only need an Apple VGA adapter, the same style you’d use for other gadgets including monitors. By joining the iPad and Smartboard cable with the adapter, the iPad should display on when the projector and iPad are on.

Sorry it wasn’t more intricate or secretive than that. Plug it in and turn it on. Same will work with HDMI cables and HDTVs as well with the right adapters.

If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the video below, which brings up the interesting suggestion of whole-class reads via the projector, which would not be great for novels, but for poems or picture books would work swimmingly, we’d think.


12 Characteristics Of An iPad-Ready Classroom

12 Characteristics Of An iPad-Ready Classroom

by Terry Heick

Implementing iPads isn’t exactly a just-add-water proposition.

While they’re wondrous little devices capable of enchanting learners for hours, to get the learning results you’re likely after will take planning, design, and reflection.

It can help to start out by asking yourself some important questions, such as “What can the iPad do that is not possible without it? Put another way, what problems does the iPad solve?”

But the learning environment you’re starting with can make a big difference as well. It’s one thing to come up with individual lesson plans high on the wiz-bang factor, but low in terms of sustainability.

Below are 4 distinct areas of instruction and instructional design that can help frame the concept of iPad integration. Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Integration.

There is more to the conversation, but rather than overwhelm you (not that you couldn’t handle it), it seemed better to simply start your thinker.

Curriculum is…

  • Adaptive (less rigid)
    Learning pathways, embedded differentiation and personalization, culturally and cognitively responsive tasks and work that honors constructivist thinking and doing over passivity and compliance
  • Dynamic (less static)
    Having constant access to constantly changing information and media requires a curriculum that is equally dynamic
  • Digital (less physical)
    Promoting blogging, collaborative project-planning via apps and cloud-based suites, digital presentations through apps like Prezi, curating of complex digital portfolios, etc.

Instruction is…

  • Student-centered (less teacher or institutionally-centered)
    Student as designer and producer, teacher as resource and assessment expert rather than knowledge holder and task-master
  • Diverse (less uniform)
    With access to a nearly infinite number of digital domains, instruction will have to adapt in parallel, including peer-to-peer, student-to-student, school-to-school learning; mastery-based learning via apps such as the Khan Academy 
  • Focused on persistent transfer (less focused on “tests”)
    iPads cater to media consumption and production. Intentional instructional scope-and-sequencing will help promote transfer of standards-mastery through both consumption (reading, viewing, observing) and production (designing, constructing, executing)

Assessment is…

  • Authentic (less academic)
    Seamlessly transfers to physical and digital domains of learner, with useful artifacts, products, and applications in the “real world”
  • Frequent & Formative (less intermittent and summative)
    A climate of assessment that yields simple data digestible to all stakeholders–including the teacher
  • Fluid and/or Project-Based (less obsessed with standards and “proficiency”)
    “Fluid” assessment provides a constant stream from a wide variety of sources and forms. This is possible in Problem-based, Challenge-based, or Community-Based projects that reward innovation, risk-taking, self-awareness, and inductive thinking patterns

Integrated with…

  • School & District Initiatives (in isolation)
    Literacy and Technology plans, extracurricular programs, college-readiness programs, etc.
  • Relevant Communities (forced, awkward audiences–for the love of everything, please no more letters to the principals)
    Digital, Physical, Local, Global
  • Apple Ecology (disconnected from other Apple and related ecologies)
    ITunesU, Macs, Apps, iOS, Apple-friendly apps, etc. 

10 Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Deploying iPads

10 Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Deploying iPads

by Terry Heick

Usually, iPad deployment will focus more on budget issues, apps, networking logistics, check-in and check-out procedures, school and district tech-use policies, hardware precautions, and aspects of classroom management.

To begin thinking more broadly about iPads in an educational environment, consider the following questions.

1. What are the goals for iPad implementation? Engagement, access to digital textbooks, access to digital environments, primarily media consumption, media production, or a blend of everything?

2. What can the iPad do that is not possible–or is clunky and cumbersome–without it? That is, what learning problems does the iPad solve?

3. What sort of instructional planning are you using–traditional units, project-based learning, game-based learning, or something else? That is, what style of learning are you expecting the iPad to actuate?

4. How should your instructional design and lesson planning be revised as a result of the iPad?

5. What “fail-safes” should be built into activities to ensure learning is possible when the technology misbehaves and doesn’t do what you ask?

6. What is your own comfort level with technology? What digital, physical, and human resources are available when something is needed? 

7. Will the iPad’s use always require special, specific planning? What changes could you make to allow the iPad’s application in the classroom to be more organic and fluid?

8. What is the role of learner in iPad use? Can they choose which apps they use to solve a problem? Suggest better apps for better problem-solving? Switch between tasks, assignments, and activities freely, or a follow-only approach?

9. Is the learning environment you design and manage technology-centered, standards-centered, data-centered, or student-centered?

10. How can you experiment with new instructional styles to take advantage of mobile learning devices in the classroom? For example, quick, open-ended, digital problem-solving competitions that utilize quick bursts of higher-level thinking skills in individual and collaborative arrangements.

Also worth considering: How committed are you to overcoming unforeseen challenges? How can parents, families, and local businesses be involved in procuring, managing, or integrating iPads in the classroom? Is BYOD (Bring Your Own iPad) possible? How successful has the curriculum and instructional design been in the school prior to iPad deployment? Further, how is “success” defined in the school–authentic projects, creative thinking, or standardized-testing proficiency? What are the “terms of deployment” in the school? 1:1 or 1 per class? Do students have open access based on need, or teacher planning?

These kinds of questions can help you get the most out of the iPad’s use in your classroom.

Would love to see others we missed in the comments section.

Image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad


32 iPad Apps For Better Writing

Today’s writers benefit from an incredible assortment of digital tools from which they can draw inspiration and productivity. Although some writers prefer to stick to old-fashioned pen and paper or even typewriters, there’s a vast population of others that are happy to take advantage of all the new tools out there.

Some of the brightest of these tools can be found on the Apple iPad, and we’ve highlighted 32 of them here. Whether you’re looking for a place to scribble ideas, organize plotlines, or just find your zen before sitting down to write, these apps have got you covered.

  1. Adobe Ideas

    Keep this app handy for moments of inspiration. You can scribble notes, write on images, and create sketches to make your vision come to life.

  2. Manuscript

    This app will walk you through the steps of writing to create a publication-ready document. You’ll flesh out your pitch synopsis, chapter outlines, and finally, the content. The app also offers the option to create storyboards, organize your blog, track page and word count, and more.

  3. Clockwork Notebook

    This super simple doodling app is great for typing notes, doodles, and more, with stickers and even an option to paste photos from your photo library. Notes can be exported as PDFs.

  4. MaxJournal

    Write a daily diary, write down notes, and create outlines with this iPad journaling app. You can attach tags for easy organization, as well as attach a few photos. Then, bring it all together on your computer by exporting entries as a PDF, text, or email.

  5. Chapters

    In this app, you can simply organize your chapters, journal entries, notes, and more. Chapters allows you to search, autosave, and even protect private notebooks with a passcode.

  6. Pages

    Although this app comes with a high price tag, writers say it’s worth every penny for all of its useful features. You’ll find formatting options, printing support, and the ability to save your document in a number of different formats.

  7. iZen Garden

    Go to your happy place and allow inspiration to find you with this tabletop zen garden for the iPad.

  8. My Writing Spot

    For a distraction-free writing environment, this app can’t be beat. But this app isn’t bare bones: it offers word count, password protection, dictionary lookup, spellcheck, and more.

  9. PrintCentral

    Get your notes and writing off your iPad and physically into your hands with this app. Find the best printer, and print via Wi-Fi, 3G, or even EDGE.

  10. Clean Writer

    Created for writing minimalists, Clean Writer has a zen interface with precious few features to distract you from the task at hand.

  11. Kindle

    Although this app is not for writing, reading is an important task for any writer. Find free classics, download new favorites, and sync it all up with this app.

  12. Dragon Dictation

    If inspiration strikes, but you can’t stop to type it all out, this dictation app will come in extremely handy. Turn your words into text lightning fast, and you’ll be amazed by its accuracy.

  13. Due

    Use this timer app to encourage short bursts of intense writing and get your book written in no time.

  14. Writers App

    Get your ideas out and organized with the help of this app. You can use it to collect your plot, chapters, characters, and more, all in one handy spot.

  15. GoodReader

    This app is perfect for annotating PDF documents on your iPad. Highlight, comment, and make notes all over to get your thoughts in order.

  16. QuickVoice Recorder

    If you need a quick fix for getting your ideas down in spoken word, this app will do it for you. Record audio clips, email them to yourself, and use them to remember all of your great ideas and inspirations.

  17. Chronicle

    Find a home for your stories, life events, and ideas in this journal. The app offers password protection, cloud backups, and event the option to export your journal as a website.

  18. miTypewriter

    If you’re longing for the old days of typewriters, this app can help you reminisce. It’s simply an easy way to use a typewriter interface for writing on the iPad.

  19. iA Writer

    This super simple text writer can help you get your ideas out onto paper with minimal distractions and plenty of ease of use.

  20. Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus

    This app combines the power of a dictionary and thesaurus, both available offline any time you need help finding the right words.

  21. Whiteboard HD

    Capture your brainstorming sessions in style with this app. You can write notes, sketch charts, and even make simple freeform drawings.

  22. Grammar App HD

    Find tips, rules, and other great resources for cleaning up your grammar right on the iPad with this app.

  23. Colorful Aquarium

    Find relaxation and entertainment in this colorful aquarium. You don’t even have to clean it!

  24. Wikihood

    For doing quick research on settings, Wikihood is a great option. The app will show you all of the Wikipedia entries for any given area, sharing the history, politics, and culture that can be reflected in your work.

  25. Dropbox

    Make your novel available to you anytime, anywhere by putting it on Dropbox. Access your photos, documents, and notes easily with this app that saves them all automatically to all of your devices.

  26. Notepiler 9

    Using N9, you can capture media-rich notes, with an easy to find visual catalog. Record audio notes, annotate photos, map points of interest, and more, all in one app.

  27. Todo for iPad

    Stay on top of your to-do list with this app, which keeps your tasks up to date and synched between all of your devices. You can even take advantage of the app’s GPS capability to get reminders based on where you are.

  28. Index Card

    TV writers love this app for thinking through and organizing scripts. It has an easy to use, attractive interface that makes writing more fun.

  29. Fancy Pages

    Using this app, you can create graphics-rich documents including presentations or even a children’s book.

  30. Infinote Pinboard

    Similar to Index Card, Infinote Pinboard allow you to create note cards to pin to your message board. You can share them, print them, and order them by date, color, or even deadline.

  31. Evernote

    Evernote is a super capable writing app that pretty much goes everywhere. You can update notes and documents on your iPad, then have them synched up to work on your iPhone, computer, and more.

  32. SimpleNote

    A lot like Evernote, SimpleNote syncs your notes online for access anywhere. This app also allows you to go back and recycle pieces of text from previous drafts, and shows the word count of your document.


    This is a cross-post from content partners at


40 iPad Apps For Homeschooled Students

The iPad has become well established as a great tool for education, for both school and home classrooms. An amazingly flexible device that can assist in teaching from infancy through collegeand beyond, homeschooling families can benefit from using the iPad no matter the age or quantity of their children. Read on to learn about our favorite iPad apps for homeschool education.

  1. Common Core Standards: Stay on top of the core standards of education for your child to make sure you’re staying on track.
  2. Super Why!: Super Why! offers interactive literacy games, bringing fun to the alphabet, spelling, reading, and more.
  3. iLiveMath Animals of Africa: iLiveMath features African animals, and a fun way for children to solve word math problems.
  4. Homeschool Published since 1995, Homeschool Magazine is available on the iPad with Presentation Pages, offline availability, and free sample resources.
  5. ABC Phonics Sight Words: This app puts high frequency words front and center with games including flashcards and unscrambling.
  6. MathBoard: MathBoard offers random problem generation, quick reference tables, and more while still being fun.
  7. Netflix: Watch foreign movies, documentaries, and educational cartoons as part of your home classroom curriculum using Netflix.
  8. NASA App HD: View a wealth of NASA information in your iPad with mission information, videos, images, and even NASA Twitter feeds.
  9. Princess Math: Get young girls and even boys interested in math with Princess Math, which has addition and subtraction problems to boost math skills.
  10. Groovy Grader: Upgrade your old school grader with this super usable grading app.
  11. Craft Finder: Celebrate holidays and occasions with themed crafts, conveniently found on the iPad thanks to Craft Finder.
  12. K12 Timed Reading Practice: Young readers can practice with short, timed stories that focus on comprehension. You can track multiple readers, words per minute, and more as well.
  13. Wikipanion: Get improved access to Wikipedia on your iPad with the Wikipanion app, which allowed history, bookmarking, page searching, image saving, and more.
  14. Starfall: Show children letters and sounds to develop phonics skills with Starfall.
  15. GeeTasks: Use GeeTasks to view and update Google Tasks from your iPad both online and offline.
  16. SpellDown: Host your own spelling bee at home with SpellDown, the app that’s great for creating custom spelling lists.
  17. Eric Carle’s My Very First App: Fans of Eric Carle’s books will enjoy this app that has educational challenges, including the game of Memory.
  18. The Civil War Today: With this app, you’ll receive 4 years of daily updates that will share what happened on that date during the civil war.
  19. Top It: Top It makes addition fun with competitive rounds of play.
  20. Make Change: Study math in a practical way with MakeChange, an iPad counting game that allows students to do addition problems.
  21. This Day in History for iPad: Students can read daily history updates, including historic speeches, national anthems, and even sound clips from famous artists.
  22. Motion Math: Make math studies into a fun game that helps learners improve in fractions, decimals, and more.
  23. Analogy: Set the stage for analytical thinking, problem solving, and creativity with this app that studies analogies.
  24. Google Earth: Take a look at high resolution images of the world using Google Earth on the iPad.
  25. SAT Score Quest: Work on SAT prep on your iPad with this assessment and practice app.
  26. US Puzzle Map: Turn the US into a fun map game using this app. There are also other countries available, including Japan, Europe, and China.
  27. FlashGram: Quiz children on their language arts skills with Flash Gram, which features short questions with touchable answers.
  28. Read Me Stories: Read Me Stories offers a new book each day with illustrations and voices.
  29. ABC Wildlife: ABC Wildlife explore letters, words, and animals, with over 80 animal words, hundreds of photos and videos, fun facts, and more.
  30. Star Walk for iPad: Star Walk shares an interactive astronomy guide for learning about stars and constellations.
  31. Stanza: Read and listen to free ebooks and audiobooks on Stanza, from classics to independent author reads.
  32. Art Authority for iPad: With Art Authority, you’ll be transported to a real world art museum with over 50,000 paintings and sculptures.
  33. Interactive Alphabet: With this app, every letter turns into an interactive toy, making the alphabet a fun, hands on experience.
  34. World Atlas HD for iPad: Study maps of the world with this atlas for the iPad.
  35. Intro to Letters: Montessorium’s app will teach children to trace, read, write, and record letter sounds, names, and phonograms, offering a great foundation for language and understanding of the alphabet.
  36. iStudiez Lite: Take charge of your homeschooling family’s schedule using this app that allows you to stay on top of classes, assignments, and holiday periods.
  37. Ancient Rome: Explore the history of Ancient Rome with this app that shares games including puzzles and memory, as well as images, videos, and articles.
  38. BrainPOP: BrainPOP’s daily animated movies are educational, and end with an interactive quiz for learning.
  39. Phonics Easy Reader: Practice phonics material in these various levels of phonics reader apps for your student.
  40. Math Bingo: Kids can get a BINGO by answering math problems correctly. There are a variety of games and levels of difficulty. You can also create player profiles and keep track of scores.

This is a cross-post from content partners at;  Image attribution flickr user Sue Talbert Photography;


The 50 Best Smartphone Apps For Teachers Arranged By Category


Mobile phones managed to mostly kick their classroom stigma once the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and other PDA-cellular hybrids (also known as “smartphones,” but you knew that already) popped onto the scene. Thanks to the veritable Library of Alexandria of apps available on the respective markets, life can run that much smoother for professionals of all types. And that, of course, includes teachers.

We’ve discovered a seemingly endless collection of smartphone apps that teachers can put to work in the classroom and beyond, creating a powerhouse of back-to-school mobile tools. Read on to discover 50 of the best smartphone apps for teachers, and share any personal favorites we’ve missed in the comments.

For the Classroom

  1. Smart Dot It’s an iDevice-based laser pointer that doubles as a remote control for PowerPoint and Keynote presentations — well worth it for slide-loving educators!
  2. Educreations Interactive Whiteboard OK, so you actually download this app to an iPad, but Educreations Interactive Whiteboard still remains an essential edtech tool. As the title states, it turns the gadget into an easy-to-use method of drawing and diagramming in the classroom.
  3. Attendance iPhone-enabled teachers adore this application allowing them to keep track of their students’ classroom habits and even learn their names via flashcard.
  4. Grade Book for Professors Take advantage of Google Spreadsheets as a useful strategy for organizing and tracking student grades, either through the paid or free version.
  5. Percent Calculator Get grades done harder, better, faster, and stronger using this quick and easy calculator just for figuring out percentages.
  6. eClicker Polling System Available on the iPhone, the eClicker Suite lets teachers poll their students about anything and everything during class.
  7. Voice Recorder Perfect for Android users wanting to make permanent records of lectures for students who can’t make it to class for whatever reason.
  8. iTalk Recorder Don’t worry, Apple fans! There’s still a way to keep an audio record of classroom discussions using the iPhone!
  9. Blackboard Mobile Learn Rather than an app for a classroom, Blackboard practically provides a classroom for an app, available on almost all smartphone and tablet platforms.
  10. CourseSmart Subscribers to this digital textbook services enjoy unlimited access to thousands of digital reads on their phones and tablet devices.

Organization, Time Saving, and Productivity

  1. Teacher Aide Pro Lite Turn an Android phone into a personal assistant with an app providing pretty much every specific organizational requirement educators need to succeed.
  2. TeacherKit iPhone-toting teachers can also enjoy all the perks of a PDA app with TeacherKit, which provides a way to stay on top of grades, attendance, and any other factors they need to know.
  3. Evernote Oftentimes touted as the ultimate productivity app, Evernote allows for the production of multimedia notes to be shared across devices.
  4. Dropbox This simple, popular tool focuses mostly on transferring documents back and forth between different computers and smartphones alike.
  5. RE.minder Educators with time management issues might want to consider downloading RE.minder, with a to-do list feature and handy alerts when tasks are almost due.
  6. iAnnotate iAnnotate helps iPad-owning teachers edit, organizes, read, and annotate (of course) PDF files, making it an ideal tool for grading student projects.
  7. Free Wi-Fi Finder When getting work done outside the home or office — because teachers need a change of atmosphere, too! — it helps to know what nearby locales host free wireless service.
  8. Instapaper Save pages from useful websites and blogs you encounter for offline viewing and reading with this much-ballyhooed timesaver.
  9. Documents To Go View and create PDFs and Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, and Word documents from almost anywhere.
  10. Bento Keep a database on contacts, projects, upcoming events, due dates, and more with one of the most-acclaimed organization applications available.

Professional Development and Training

  1. Edmodo Connect with other teachers as well as students using Edmodo, which acts as a social media resource limited exclusively to the schooling sector.
  2. LinkedIn Access the ridiculously popular professional social media site and network with others in the education industry for ideas, inspirations, and information about how to improve your career.
  3. iBlueSky (mindmapping) Get great ideas out there and in the open with this productivity app that means to push every user’s inherent potential forward.
  4. Bump “Bumping” two enabled phones together automatically exchanges contact information — great for staying in touch with parents as well as other teachers and administrators from education events.
  5. Twitter The ubiquitous microblog’s app covers pretty much every smartphone platform available, and offers a stellar way to share resources with other professionals as well as students and their parents.
  6. Flashcards* Create, share, and download flashcards on every subject imaginable — awesome for classroom use or staying current on changes within education and areas of inquiry.
  7. Facebook Because so many education professionals, schools, and organizations take advantage of the 300-pound gorilla of social media, it definitely warrants a download for plugged-in pros seeking some career development.
  8. The Leadership Challenge Mobile Tool Wiley Publishers provide a $4.99 resource packed with information, inspiration, and a series of articles and activities meant to bolster general leadership acumen.
  9. Pulse News Stay on top of the current news of the day by sticking with this Android app, which involves easy access to any online reads the user chooses. Pulse News makes for one of the best ways to remain relevant in the general education sector as well as any academic subjects taught.
  10. Goodreads You don’t have to teach English to appreciate good reads, and this social network and personal library inventory system stands as solid proof! Sign up and use it to receive custom recommendations of books to nurture the classroom as well as personal and professional growth.


  1. Wolfram Alpha Turn a smartphone into the world’s most powerful reference tool, with extensive information about literally every academic subject imaginable packed into one stunning application.
  2. – Dictionary & Thesaurus – Free Like the title states, this app from combines dictionary and thesaurus tools for quick vocabulary look-ups.
  3. Wikipedia Read through and share articles from the world’s largest encyclopedia on pretty much every smartphone platform out there.
  4. Wikipanion Wikipanion streamlines the Wikipedia experience even more, allowing for bookmarking, archiving visit dates, multilingual searches, and other amazing additions completely gratis.
  5. How To Videos from Learn how to do just about anything using crowdsourced videos, and even upload your own instructions to open up your classroom to the world.
  6. Free Graphing Calculator It’s a free graphing calculator. For the iPhone. If you haven’t figured that out by now, then probably you have to worry about more than which apps to download and further your teaching.
  7. Algeo graphing calculator Don’t fret, Android devotees! There’s a great graphing calculator application just for you ladies and gents as well!
  8. ASL Ultimate Teachers with hearing-impaired students will greatly appreciate having this resource around for advice on what to say and how to say it in ASL.
  9. World Factbook Every year, the CIA releases its World Factbook to smartphone audiences and grants them access to detailed information about every nation on the planet.
  10. Google Search Google Search provides way more options than the web-based engine, and smartphone fans love taking advantage of how it sends returns based on photos and other multimedia input.

Welcome Distractions

  1. Kindle Available on every smartphone platform, Amazon’s popular ebook reader make free and for-profit digital literature easy to access during free moments.
  2. TED TED provides an edifying way to pass the time, with hundreds of videos featuring experts lecturing on every topic imaginable.
  3. Instagram In between pictures of cats and food, try posting some from the classroom and share ideas about decor, or host a digital art show for students.
  4. NPR Podcasts Sit back, relax, and get lost in “Planet Money,” “All Songs Considered,” “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and dozens of other NPR shows both national and local.
  5. Showyou Showyou curates the best of the best YouTube videos, and encourages others to share what they love most. The educational applications here ought to be readily apparent!
  6. Musee du Louvre Digitally walk the famous halls of the world-class art museum at the end of a stressful day and get lost in its glorious collections.
  7. Foursquare Play fun, deal-seeking check-in games with friends or even draw some up for student scavenger hunts.
  8. Cracked Reader Lite Cracked is so ridiculously hilarious, people sometimes forget it actually features some insightful and educational content on the reg.
  9. Google Earth Fun with or without playing with it on an educational level, Google Earth inspires awe and wonder at our planet’s true complexities.
  10. Mixology Drink Recipes Because those essays won’t grade themselves.

This is a cross-post from; image attribution flickr user Mr. T in DC


How To Capture Ideas Visually With The iPad

By its very design, the iPad promotes consumption.

Essentially an interactive mobile screen, the combination of physical form and supporting software-based user interface on Apple’s wunder-tablet suggests watching and listening, enabling you to tear the “monitor” off the desk and take it with you.

By lacking a keyboard, input and production aren’t quite as natural. That isn’t necessarily because the iPad can’t accommodate such input, but rather that the software–and our habits as users–haven’t completely caught up with the not-insignificant shift in interface.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

One microcosm of the potential of the iPad in learning is the concept of visual recording.

Visual recording is what it sounds like it’d be. As opposed to recording audio, visual recording captures visuals, though not necessarily in photographic form. The process of visually capturing ideas with the iPad isn’t terribly complex in concept. If you can think of concept-mapping, you’re halfway there.

But executing it in practice–and then doing something meaningful with those iPad-captured images–isn’t second-nature simply because it’s not something you do everyday.

The following video does an excellent job of exploring this idea, answering the following questions:

1. What is visual recording?

2. What tools (and apps) are available to make it work?

3. What do you need to understand to be able to do it?

4. Post-production, what do you do with the recordings when you’ve finished?

It is also honest, offering the pros and cons of each app, and of the iPad itself in various learning domains.

Teaching Technology

25 Ways To Use The iPad In The Classroom By Complexity

25 Ways To Use The iPad In The Classroom By Complexity

by TeachThought Staff

iPad use in formal learning environments, by all accounts, is soaring. Due to the almost magical ways it promotes interaction, that makes sense. But when learners are using the iPad, what are they doing? What exactly?

Oftentimes the novelty of technology can mask the more important reasons for learning, and general cognitive patterns. In response, we created a kind of spectrum moving left to right from passive consumption, to more active collaboration, to original production. Each activity or task is also paired with a suggested app in bold, though other apps could fill the roles shown.

25 Ways To Use The iPad In The Classroom By Complexity